Avoiding A Spring Freeze

We whine and pine for Winter to be over, and then Spring arrives and we… freeze.

We don’t know what to do first. There is so much to do! Digging, planting, sowing, pruning, mowing! What to do first? You don’t know. You run around in circles, skitter around from one part of the garden to the other.

You might even have a genuine fear of getting started after all those months of thinking about and planning for the perfect garden.

But the quest for perfection isn’t what gardening is all about. We all know that, well all of us except some of those rose growers and other flower show exhibitors.

A garden is going to be full of imperfections, full of life, full of fun.

So let’s just calm down and get started with these five tips on how to be ready in the spring to start gardening just as soon as we have one of those glorious “teaser” days when the sun shines and the high temperature is in the 60’s.

1. Review your garden journal to remember when things really happen. When you realize when plants bloom and sprout and when you first planted and sowed and mowed in past years, you’ll remind yourself that everything in the garden doesn’t happen at once. Spring isn’t a day, it’s a season, and it takes time for the garden to wake up and for you to garden.

2. Write down the major projects you want to accomplish in the garden this year and the first thing you need to get each one started. Then if you are on a roll, write down everything else you need to do for each project, when you think you can do it, what you need to buy, etc. Now you have at least the start of a plan so that you can stop running around in circles wondering what to do first.

3. Straighten up the garage or garden shed, or wherever you keep your gardening tools, hoes, and supplies. Make a list of supplies you keep on hand that you need more of so you can buy those on your next trip to the garden center. Sharpen tools, inspect hoses, etc. so that when you are ready to use them, they are ready to be used. Do this when the weather isn’t good enough to actually garden, if you can.

4. Start slow, give yourself time to get back in shape, back into rhythm. Give yourself time to get each task done. Gardening isn’t enjoyable if you work yourself to exhaustion on that first day, or risk injury by over doing it. Start off with easier projects like planting some containers with violas and pansies as soon as you see some for sale. Then you can work up to digging, heavy pruning, etc.

5. Breathe, relax. We garden for fun, for enjoyment, because we love to garden. It will all get done. If it all seems like too much, reduce the size of your garden, simplify it. Don’t try to keep up with the neighbors. Garden for yourself, plant what you like. You’ll be much happier with the result.

Now I'm personally hoping for a little sunshine and temperatures above freezing this weekend, so I can get started on getting ready for Spring. How about you?


  1. "If it all seems like too much, reduce the size of your garden, simplify it."

    Great advice. So many times folks think they have to go all out, and then they lose the enjoyment. But if you just do what you have time for, even if that means giving up the grand idea in your head, then you get much more out of it.

    Gardening should be fun. If it only becomes a chore, it's time to pay someone to help or to scale back.

  2. I agree, excellent post. But it just dawned on me . . . your crocus is growing up through green grass. That means your grass isn't dormant, which means your soil isn't frozen, is it? Which means you are much closer to spring than I am. Much closer. Now I'm green--with jealousy!

  3. Here's a corollary to Pam/Digging's advice - when something dies don't immediately replant ... throw some mulch on the spot and just observe and ponder the space for awhile. Sometimes a little subtraction multiplies the appreciation of what has survived.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Thanks for reminding us to stop worrying and have some fun. Good preparation is key, like you say, plus a couple of good to do lists so you don't forget all those great ideas swimming around in your head. Photos help remember what it was like last year and before, in case your journal entries are indecipherable ;->

    Frances at Faire Garden

  5. Great advice! I'd add that there should be no digging or planting until the soil is workable. It's such a temptation to start digging as soon as the ground thaws, which ends up with screwed up soil texture & dead plants.

  6. I'm afraid to make a list, it would be SO long. My poor family! Good advice about not over-doing it right off the bat.

  7. It's good to think about things in advance, as you say, and to get things ready for a fresh start...I'm always guilty of thinking I have things on hand that I used up last month...I think I'll clean my little shed this weekend!

  8. Carol this is just the best advise. Just what I neeeded today. I have been 'creating' in my garden journal the past few days. It comes on me like that. I don't do anything then like a dam bursts and I start putting things on paper. I was scaring myself into distraction. Ha... I know it will all get done but...when you look at it, even on paper, it can seem overwhelming. I think I will have a cocktail and relax. Think about it some more.

  9. Pam/digging, I agree, or if there are parts of 'gardening' that you just don't like, hire someone to do those things for you.

    Kathy, Now, you knew I'd have spring before you, regardless! That spot is on the south side of the house and so it gets a lot of sun on sunny days. I think most of the ground is still frozen.

    Annie in Austin, Great advice. You can also observe that spot to see if there is something about it that won't let any plant live there for long.

    Frances, Yes, photos help, and sometimes my garden journal is just incomplete. I believe it is Blackswamp_Girl that takes pictures of all the bulb labels on top of where she plants the bulbs to keep for her records.

    Mr. McGregor's Daughter, Absolutely. You can really mess up your planting bed by digging it when it is wet or still frozen. Great advice.

    Christine, Even if your list is long, having a list at least helps you decide what you really want to to do.

    Leslie, I hope it is warm enough this weekend that I can do some straightening up in my garage, at least, and put together my new compost tumbler.

    Lisa at Greenbow, I hope you are enjoying your cocktail while looking over your notes. That's what is good about writing down your plans. Then you won't forget them and you can add some reality to them.

    Thanks all for joining in with even more great ideas for getting started again in the spring.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  10. I hope it does warm up for the weekend. I got most of my difficult and labor intensive things done last year. This year should be easier and even more enjoyable.

  11. Great advice! I've been really slacking...all this snow makes me feel that spring is still months away, but I know it isn't. I'm definately all about the fun...no stress allowed in my garden for sure!

  12. Oh - I love that advice! Could you repost #5 every week or so??!!! No, seriously, I have fun, but I'll be the first to tell you I don't just SIT and enjoy the beauty in my garden nearly enough. THAT's my goal for this year. Thanks for the sage words.

  13. Really great advice -- thanks for the reminder. That's my #1 rule...enjoy!


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